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Boston Book Festival 2022: Emerson Headliners, Presenters

Jabari Asim headshot
Distinguished Professor of Multidisciplinary Letters Jabari Asim

Jabari Asim, Distinguished Professor of Multidisciplinary Letters will headline a panel on “Fiction: Secrets, Shapeshifting, and Time” at this year’s Boston Book Festival on Saturday, October 29, in Copley Square, joining several other Emerson faculty and alums who will moderate or present panels.

Asim, author of eight works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for adults, as well as 13 children’s books, will join writers Steve Almond and Lucy Ives to talk about themes in his latest novel, Yonder (Simon & Schuster, 2022). Yonder explores love and friendship among a group of enslaved Black strivers in the mid-19th-century who are given the idea of freedom and the promise of the right to love and be loved. Novelist Whitney Scharer will moderate. The panel is sponsored by Emerson College Graduate Programs.

All panels and programs are free and open to the public. For a detailed schedule, visit

Kayla Cottingham ’18, author of the New York Times bestselling YA novel My Dearest Darkest (Sourcebooks, 2022), will sit on the YA panel, “Secrets and Revelations.”

Former Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Gail Mazur is participating in a reading with fellow Mass Book Award poetry winners. Mazur won for Land’s End: New and Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press, 2020).

Porsha Olayiwola in lobby
Boston Poet Laureate and affiliated faculty member Porsha Olayiwola, MFA ’22. File photo

Affiliated faculty member Porsha Olayiwola, MFA ’22, poet laureate of Boston and author of the poetry collection i shimmer sometimes, too (SCB Distributors, 2020), will participate in “Poems and Pints,” a group reading with beer and pretzels.

Ploughshares Director and Editor-in-Chief Ladette Randolph, Distinguished Publisher-in-Residence, and author of five books, including the novel Private Way (University of Nebraska Press, 2022), will join the panel “Fiction: The Territory of Women.”

Affiliated faculty member Anna V.Q. Ross, poetry editor of Salamander and author of two chapbooks and two poetry collections, including Flutter, Kick (Red Hen Press, 2022), is a panelist on “The Future Is Now: Motherhood and the Body in a Post-Roe World.”

Alum Lin Thompson, a 2018 Lambda Literary Fellow and author of the children’s book The Best Liars in Riverview (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022)(a previous version of which won the Travis Parker Rushing Memorial Writing Award at Emerson), will lead a workshop on “Setting the Scene.” Afterward, they will join the panel, “Who Am I: Self-Image in Middle-Grade Novels.”

Bill Littlefield, a faculty member with the Emerson Prison Initiative, former host of NPR’s Only a Game, and author of the novel Mercy (Black Rose Writing, 2022), will speak at “Boston in 100 Words: Our City Seen Through Your Eyes.”

Cheryl Buchanan, MFA ’15, co-founder of the nonprofit Writers Without Margins, will moderate “Return of the Freedom Writers,” and Andrea Martucci ’09, MA ’12, host of the podcast Shelf Love and former managing editor of Ploughshares, will moderate the panel “Romance: Historical Romance, Contemporary Values.”

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